1834 in reference to convulsions in society; 1836 in geology, from verb upheave (c. 1300, from up (adv.) + heave (v.)) + -al (2). Similarly formed verbs are Old Frisian upheva, Old High German ufhevan, German aufheben.
Old English up, uppe, from Proto-Germanic *upp- "up" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon up "up, upward," Old Norse upp; Danish, Dutch op; Old High German uf, German auf "up"; Gothic iup "up, upward," uf "on, upon, under;" Old High German oba, German ob "over, above, on, upon"), from PIE root *upo "under," also "up from under," hence also "over."
As a preposition, "to a higher place" from c. 1500; also "along, through" (1510s), "toward" (1590s). Often used elliptically for go up, come up, rise up, etc. Up the river "in jail" first recorded 1891, originally in reference to Sing Sing, which is up the Hudson from New York City. To drive someone up the wall (1951) is from the notion of the behavior of lunatics or caged animals. Insulting retort up yours (scil. ass) is attested by late 19c.
Old English hebban "to lift, raise; lift up, exalt" (class VI strong verb; past tense hof, past participle hafen), from Proto-Germanic *hafjan (source also of Old Norse hefja, Dutch heffen, German heben, Gothic hafjan "to lift, raise"), from PIE *kap-yo-, from root *kap- "to grasp." The sense evolution would be "to take, take hold of," thence "lift."
Related to have (Old English habban "to hold, possess"). Meaning "to throw" is from 1590s. Nautical meaning "haul or pull" in any direction is from 1620s. Intransitive use from early 14c. as "be raised or forced up;" 1610s as "rise and fall with alternate motion." Sense of "retch, make an effort to vomit" is first attested c. 1600. Related: Heaved; heaving. Nautical heave-ho was a chant in lifting (c. 1300, hevelow).
suffix forming nouns of action from verbs, mostly from Latin and French, meaning "act of ______ing" (such as survival, referral), Middle English -aille, from French feminine singular -aille, from Latin -alia, neuter plural of adjective suffix -alis, also used in English as a noun suffix. Nativized in English and used with Germanic verbs (as in bestowal, betrothal).
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Definitions of upheaval from WordNet
a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally);